Syrups are for adding balance to the alcohol and/or acids in a cocktail. They are also a source of dilution because they consist of water and something (usually) sweet. Most bars use simple syrup in a 1:1 or 2:1 ratio. It can be made on the fly with warm tap water and either stirring or shaking to incorporate. You can use whatever sugar you like but plain white granulated sugar is the go to for a 1-1. For making a 2-1 rich sugar syrup, you usually see a turbinado sugar for deeper flavor. Powdered or confectioner's sugar contains about 3% cornstarch and will add a silky texture to drinks by the scoop.
I don’t use a 1:1 or a 2:1 but rather one right in the middle. I know that sounds silly to complicate something so…simple...but it is the best of both worlds. The added sugar to water helps the solution last longer yet keeps it pourable out of the bottle. All my drink recipes are based on the following sugar solution.
Really quickly you should understand how percentage composition works.
To find percentage composition:
Parts of Solute / One Hundred Parts of Solution
Sugar is the solute
Water is the solvent
A solution is the mixture of the two.
Also remember that water at room temp weighs in grams what its volume in milliliters is.
So to figure out a 1:1 sugar solution:
(1000 g of sugar) / (1000 g Sugar + 1000 g Water) X 100 = 50%
With the same math that means that a 2:1 is a 66.6% solution and is in no way double sweet as people seem to think. The solution I like to use comes out to about 58%. Right in the middle.
In a large mixing vessel or Cambro:
500 g of Granulated Sugar (by weight)
360 ml of Water
Blend together with a stick blender until all of the sugar is in solution.
Bottle and keep in the fridge.
Note: This will go bad over time and the edge of the bottle may get a touch crusty. I like to use swing top lids because they are easier to keep clean. Some people like to add a touch of vodka to keep it longer. I just make smaller batches and use it before it turns.
Note: Try with different sugars and see how it affects the drink.
If there are still honey bees around when you read this I would recommend you keep honey syrup in the mix also.
In a mixing glass or shaker tin:
2 parts honey (by weight)
1 part hot water (by weight)
Mix together with a spoon.
Bottle and keep in the fridge.
Note: This should last forever but hopefully you move through it.
Note: A Maple syrup “syrup” can be made the same way...but I wouldn't bother personally. That syrup is better left on pancakes and out of drinks. There are many people and the entire state of Wisconsin that will probably stop reading here but I just don’t really like Maple Syrup in my drinks. YMMV.
You can make basically anything into a syrup by steeping or mushing fruit and sugar together. I am a fan of black pepper syrups, cordials, and citrus oleo-saccharum (oily sugar) for punches.
A very easy syrup to make if you already have simple syrup is raspberry syrup:
In a small cup or mixing glass:
60 ml Simple Syrup
10 Fresh Raspberries
Muddle (or immersion blend) fully.
Run through cheese cloth to remove seeds and pulp.
Bottle and use quickly.
Note: You of course can expand this recipe or you could even muddle in the shaker tin when making a clover club. I just like getting all the seeds and stuff out before shaking.
A set of special syrups to keep around are the basic "Tiki" Syrups.
Orgeat is basically an almond simple syrup and you know my opinion on things that have “simple” in the name. To avoid making it yourself you can pick up a bottle of BG Reynolds or Small Hands’ orgeat without breaking the bank or messing up your kitchen. If you have the time you can do it yourself. Most recipes call for toasting almonds and soaking them overnight while praying to a wooden tiki totem all while chanting from the Smugglers Cove book (650 Gough St, San Francisco). I have honestly only made the stuff if I was running a Tiki drink on a menu for a season and the price/labor outweighed buying gallons of it from someone else. It may bunch up some grass skirts that I recommend outsourcing this but you aren't running a bar from your house. It would also be ridiculous to make a gallon of orgeat just for you and your friends and sad to dump most of it into Davy Jones' Locker.
Falernum is another one that I would recommend to pick up if you like making beach drinks. It is a Barbados sweetener that has notes of clove, allspice, lime, vanilla, and usually has some alcoholic content to it but doesn't necessarily have to. Again you could make it but zesting all those limes and waiting for all the spices to infuse just for the stuff to quickly go bad in the fridge is disheartening. The classic is John D. Taylors Velvet Falernum but BG Reynolds makes a good one as well. You can find some at the liquor store easily.
Bar To Home
A simple translation from bar to home.